You know, for instance, in math, you should be able to explain your thinking. So, it’s not enough to “know” 3X2=6, but you need to illustrate it, perhaps with manipulatives: you make groups of three with blocks, select two of those groups, and you get six total things.
Is it a problem that this child preacher can quote the bible but can’t explain what it means in his own words?
It’s amazing how often people can have a lot of knowledge/information about a topic without being wise about the topic. The ancient Greeks said philosophy is the love of wisdom.
With the title of this post, I have in mind prominent secularist Sam Harris and his book “Letter To A Christian Nation.” Letter to a Christian Nation is a 2006 book by Sam Harris, written in response to feedback he received following the publication of his first book The End of Faith. The book is written in the form of an open letter to a Christian in the United States. Harris states that his aim is “to demolish the intellectual and moral pretensions of Christianity in its most committed forms.”
My letter here isn’t meant to demolish anything, but to ask Christian parents to view the short video below and ask themselves if they can see their own Christian faith with the same disinterested objectivity they see the silliness of voodoo faith and rituals? This is the challenge of the “Outsider Test For Faith,” put forward most famously by secular activist John Loftus.
My question for Christian parents, or really any religious parent, is can you watch the video, and then see your own faith the way secular people see your faith?
Beginning to see religion through the eyes of a secular person is like coming to see one of those gestalt hidden images – hidden at first – but once you see it you can’t “un-see” it. This is what the ancient Greeks meant by truth, “un-covering (a-letheia, un-hiding).”
“Give me a child until he is 7 and I will show you the man.” (Aristotle)
Is difference between this above child and the more mild cases of religious upbringing of children we see one of degree, or of kind. Picture a child who is not vocal like this one, but holds similar or more mild conservative Christian views.
Here is a helpful analogy video on religious child grooming: inundating a child with just one kind of religion, excluding others and secularism:
BONUS: Thinking about logic and humor – have you ever noticed the connection between logical errors and humor? Picture a reductio ad absurdum: a method of proving the falsity of a premise by showing that its logical consequence is absurd or contradictory. So: “The Earth cannot be flat; otherwise, we would find people falling off the edge.” That people are not falling off the edge makes Flat Earth proponents false/wrong, seem silly, which is to say hilarious! Question: Is the video of the conservative Christian preacher child above in the first video (i) not something we should care about, (ii) horrific, (iii) hilarious, or (iv) profoundly true?
Ancient historians invented speeches and put them on the lips of famous figures because they thought the speeches would be like what the famous people would have said. Similarly, the Greeks invented the story of Helios dragging the sun across the sky because to them that sounded reasonable and made sense of the phenomenon. Similarly, Jewish thinkers invented stories to explain the world, like understanding the cosmos and the firmament. Here was what they came up with:
The bible is a compilation of sources from over a long period of time by many ancient superstitious and uninformed (compared to moderns) authors who often had different purposes and theologies. It is not odd, then, that we find contradictions in their works, such as whether lying is allowed: see https://skepticsannotatedbible.com/contra/lie.html . It’s hard to reconcile Jesus’ message of love of enemy and asking God to forgive them with horrific images in Revelation such as the winepress.
Religion currently serves a rather peculiar function in society. Take the practice of prayer. On the one hand, we understand that prayer doesn’t work:
Let us consider an example of this: The Trolley Problem
The tram is coming down the track. If you do nothing, 4 people will die, but if you switch the tram to the other track, you will save them and kill the person on the other track. What would you do? No one thinks “praying for a miracle” is an honest or reasonable solution to the trolley problem, because inside of us, hidden more deeply in some than others, we understand praying for a miracle isn’t going to work (eg. Praying for the tram to magically stop or disappear).
So, if we understand that prayer doesn’t work as part of the background information of how we approach the world, why are, as they say, no atheists in foxholes?
This idea of the sudden reasonableness of God in the face of desperation can be seen in society too, such as with Alcoholics Anonymous where the most basic principle is the sufferer has to admit they are powerless against alcohol and only God can transform their soul against it:
Elijah Walker shared this Tweet on Twitter today that gives a secular person a clue about what religiousness is. Elijah writes:
Elijah Walker (they/them) 4:45 PM · Jul 31, 2022
This is the first time I’ve shared this publicly. I’ve made a decision to permanently step away from ministry. I no longer identify as a Christian. I no longer experience the thing that I used to call God. With that, I’ve lost everything familiar.
So, we see religiousness is not just a set of ideas or beliefs you have, but a way you experience the world. Elijah once experienced the world as “god-infused,” but no longer does. So, the experience of the godly/holy is not an encounter with the holy, with God, but a way the mind projects itself onto things, like experiencing the book as boring. We really do feel boringness to be a quality of the book like redness and hardness, but understand the next person may not experience the book to be boring. Similarly, the schizophrenic may experience the world as conspiracy infused. And so, thinker Friedrich Nietzsche pointed out we can go from experiencing a gospel song as holy to as irritating/boring just by playing it 50 times in a row.
“Perhaps you have come to royal dignity for just such a time as this. (Esther 4:14).”
As was usually come to pass at the end of the day, Darth Harley walked down the Angus Path, particularly pleasant and orange on a autumn eve such as this, and reflected on the day at school. His teacher had taught on “6 +1 Traits of good writing,” and specifically writing with Word Choice that reflected 5 senses and emotion words.
“Paint a picture in your readers’ minds,” she had said.
Angus Path, or more precisely Angus Trail, was a pleasant way that accompanied sparkling Golden Brook in Harley’s hometown. The Angus the trail had in mind was Angus Og MacDonald, an ancient Scottish leader who may have fought along the Templar Knights soldiers hundreds of years ago.
“What if it’s all true?” Harley’s imaginary friend “Daemon” asked as the two crunched auburn leaves along the dusty path.
“You mean like Jesus really was God’s son and accepting him gives you eternal life in blessedness?”
“Sure,” Daemon said, “or if any religion is actually right?”
Harley took a deep breath of the crisp autumn air and, being contrary as always, offered this:
“Do you know what the first thing the Abrahamic religions teach? It’s that when God created humans he made the caretakers of the world. And do you know what most people take away from these religions? They think they’re about the individual person and how they can be rewarded in this life and/or the next life. The problem is that if it is all about me, it’s hard to see how it’s all about taking care of the earth and its creatures. We may be authoring our own extinction with things like climate change by approaching life in such a way that personal self-realization and achievement is put first, and the world comes second, if at all.”
Daemon thought for a moment and said:
“You really see this in how we treat other creatures. There’s no real difference between cats, dogs, pigs, and chickens, and yet most people have no problem eating the latter, even though they love and cherish the former.”
The young Sith and his imaginary friend rambled along into the evening, a path that went down and down, round and round, as children’s author James Thurber described in The White Deer. Daemon wondered if perhaps the question isn’t whether religion was true or not, but rather even if it was true it was dangerous, and so perhaps was better left behind on the path of life.